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Glass Enameled Snuff Bottle in the Shape of a Bamboo Segment

Tags: enamel | National Palace Museum | vessel


Yung-cheng Reign (1723-1735), Ch'ing Dynasty (1644-1911)
Height: 6.5 cm, diameter: 2.2 cm 
Enamelware of the Yung-cheng reign followed that of the K'ang-hsi reign and rose to greater heights, characterized mainly by its panels in a full composition, traditional bird-and-flower painting as subject matter, colorful background, and inscriptions in panels of auspicious shapes. The body of this piece is semi-translucent white glass, its shape like that of a bamboo segment. The greenish yellow base is rendered with green bamboo and a spider, much in the elegant manner of a literati painting. The three knots of the bamboo segment here have even been colored with dots to also give it an exceptionally realistic air. The bottle includes a colorful enamelware bronze spoon handle with two butterflies along with an ivory spoon. The butterflies stand out against the dark background and give the piece even more opulence and liveliness, the golden rim further accentuating it. At the bottom is a panel against the background in an auspicious form for the inscription--spirit fungi. The inscription in red regular script against a white background reads, "Made in the Yung-cheng Reign". This snuff bottle testifies to the features of Yung-cheng wares mentioned above and therefore is quite important and precious. In 1733, archives from the Imperial Bureau of Manufacture mention the production in the glassware workshop of a "bamboo bottle with painted enamelware on white glass", which may in fact be the work seen here.

Text: Yu Kuo-ching

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum